When the topic of discipline comes up many people say that you shouldn’t discipline your child, that all you need to do is “redirect” their focus. A “redirection” isn’t going to do nearly as much good for the future of that child then some straight up discipline. It’s bonkers to think so. Many folks balk at the word discipline because they only relate it to punishment. Mind you, punishment is an element in discipline on some occasions, but if punishment is your only definition of discipline, then you really need to read the actual definition.
Discipline, according to Webster’s dictionary, has five meanings:
2. A field of study,
3. Training that corrects, molds, or perfects
4. Control gained by obedience or training
5. A system of rules governing conduct
So within these five definitions of discipline all but #2 fit the bill when it comes to disciplining a child. I am really drawn to definition #3 as that is my heart’s desire as a father. When any of my five children say or do something that is in need of discipline, I need to be first looking at how I can use this situation to make my child better. What training, and possibly punishment, is needed in order for this action to not happen again? Do I always do this correctly? No, it’s definitely easier said than always done!
All five of the kids have different personalities and react to discipline differently. Therefore, Amanda and I have to discipline the five kids differently, yet still holding to the same expectations for each of them. The discipline needs to fit the offense and be able to be used for the growth of the child. In our household the discipline of one can also be the lesson for another.
We have been reminded by our older kids that “you didn’t let us do that when we were that age” many times before. Then we have to take a step back, think, and remember what we did. It could be that the way we disciplined the older child when they were younger was extreme or have we just lessened our standards? Often times it is a decrease in standards and that “reminder” from an older sibling helps keep us on our toes in order to be consistent. (Anyone else have kids that just try to wear you down?)
Never do we want any of our kids to believe that one of their siblings gets “special” treatment or privileges. They all start chores around the same age and although some of the kids were more compliant, we still expected the less compliant one’s to carry their weight. (Even when it can take hours to complete a task due to uncompliance you can’t give up. These are life lessons for them about work and responsibility. Why are so many 20 and 30 somethings still living at home?).
Even though Andrew and Dylan have Marfan syndrome, they are disciplined the same as the three children who do not. Discipline is the shaping, the training of one’s character. Discipline isn’t based on weather all my kids can play sports or if they have to take a break when walking for a long period of time at the zoo. That’s just a part of their life and mine, but I desire for all of them to exhibit discipline.
I discipline them to become the men and women whom I want them to be for the betterment of the world that God has allowed them to live on.
When people find out that Amanda and I have five children there is typically some remark that’s made. Often times it’s a little offensive, but I used to say that we had so many children because hopefully 3 out of 5 turn out good. I was so wrong to make that statement.
My goal as a father is to discipline (refer to definition) my children in a way that the outcome is 5 for 5 when it comes to them turning out right. I work everyday to help facilitate that outcome. My oldest has just become a teenager. I only have five more years to go and then what I started from birth is what she has to launch herself into her future. Not disciplining is a disservice to your child and you will be preparing them for failure.
I’m not called to be my child’s friend. I am commanded to be my child’s parent. Hopefully the friendship part is there too, but my first duty is to parent them in the way that is right and just and for the glory of God. Discipline is not bad and it’s rarely easy. It does hurt temporarily but the lasting impact for good will set your children on a path of character and integrity.